HOW TO FREEZE YOUR CREDIT
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California is the only state that permits credit freezing. So what is a credit freeze? Choicepoint disclosed in February that a security breach exposed 145,000 people’s credit and personal information to hackers. LexisNexis database was also compromised, losing 310,000 valued customers’ identity. In addition, Bank of America lost 1.2 million federal employees’ personal data tapes. Credit freeze does not stop hackers from going into hospital or banks’ database, but it can stop everyone from checking and using the information without the owner’s consent. Credit freeze can stop crooks’ use of data to apply for credit cards under the owner’s name. In fact, credit freeze is so good that it even stop the owner from applying for new credit and checking their own credit.
Entities such as; your existing creditors, collection agencies, and government agency, can still access files to review or collect accounts. If you or anyone you know is or have been a victim of identity theft then the service is free.
To Freeze your credit report go to:
Frequently Asked Questions About Credit Freezes
1. Q :What is the difference between a fraud alert and a security freeze?
A : A fraud alert is a special message on the report that a creditor receives when checking a consumer’s credit rating. It tells the creditor that there may be fraud involved in the account. A fraud alert can help protect you against identity theft. A fraud alert can also slow down your ability to get new credit. It should not stop you from using your existing credit cards or other accounts.
· Experian: The fraud alert tells creditors to verify the identity of the person applying for credit.
· Equifax: The alert tells the creditor to call the consumer at a given phone number before issuing new credit.
· Trans Union: The alert may say either to verify identity or to call the consumer at a given number.
A security freeze means that your credit file cannot be shared with potential creditors, insurance companies or employers doing background checks. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without checking a consumer’s credit history first.
2. Q : Can I open new credit accounts if my file is frozen?
A : Yes. If you want to open a new credit account or get a new loan, you can lift the freeze on your credit file. You can lift it for a period of time. Or you can lift it for specific creditors. After you send your letter asking for the freeze, each of the credit bureaus will send you a Personal Identification Number (PIN). You will also get instructions on how to lift the freeze. You can lift the freeze by phone, using your PIN. The credit bureaus must lift your freeze within three days.
The fee for lifting the freeze temporarily is $10 for a date-range lift and $12 for a lift for a specific creditor.
3. Q : How long does it take for a security freeze to take effect?
A : Credit bureaus must place the freeze no later than five business days after receiving your written request.
4. Q : How long does it take for a security freeze to be lifted?
A : Credit bureaus must lift a freeze no later than three business days of receiving your request.
5. Q : What will a creditor who requests my file see if it is frozen?
A : A creditor will see a message, or a code, indicating that the file is frozen.
6. Q : Can a creditor get my credit score if my file is frozen?
A : No. A creditor who requests your file from one of the three credit bureaus will only get a message, or a code, indicating that the file is frozen.
7. Q : Can I order my own credit report if the file is frozen?
A : Yes.
8. Q : Can anyone see my credit file if it is frozen?
A : When you have a security freeze on your credit file, certain entities still have access to it. Your report can still be released to your existing creditors or to collection agencies acting on their behalf. They can use it to review or collect on your account. Other creditors may also use your information to make offers of credit-unless you opt out of receiving such offers. See below for how to opt out of pre-approved credit offers. Government agencies may have access for collecting child support payments or taxes or for investigating Medi-Cal fraud. Government agencies may also have access in response to a court or administrative order, a subpoena, or a search warrant.
9. Q : Do I have to freeze my credit file with all three credit bureaus?
A : Yes. Different credit issuers may use different credit bureaus. If you want to stop your credit file from being viewed, you need to freeze it with Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
10. Q : Will a freeze lower my credit score?
A : No.
11. Q : Can an employer do a background check on me if I have a freeze on my credit file?
A : No. You would have to lift the freeze to allow a background check or to apply for insurance, just as you would to apply for credit. The process for lifting the freeze is described above.
12. Q : Does freezing my file mean that I won’t receive pre-approved credit offers?
A : No. You can stop the pre-approved credit offers by calling 888-5OPTOUT. This will stop most of the offers, the ones that go through the credit bureaus. It’s good for two years or you can make it permanent.
13. Q : What law requires security freezes?
A : The law on security freezes is in the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act link to [http://www.privacy.ca.gov/code/ccra.htm ], at California Civil Code Sections 1785.11.2-1785.11.6.